What’s behind the surge of populism that brought Donald Trump to power? For Fareed Zakaria, trends in technology and globalization are one important factor, insofar as they have created a disconnect between economic growth and jobs in the United States.
That isn’t, however, the whole story.
“There's an interesting puzzle,” he declared in a Wednesday lecture at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is co-hosted by The Aspen Institute and The Atlantic. “This is a wave of populism taking place around the world. This is not just the United States. We have to unpack that for a minute and ask ourselves where it is happening.”
The heart of populism used to be Latin America.
“If you went back 30 or 40 years and asked yourself where would you see the great populist regimes, they were all in Argentina and Bolivia and Brazil––that's really what defined modern populism,” he said. “Today, Latin America has almost no populism. Latin America is a place filled with pragmatic, reform-minded, Hillary Clinton-like policy wonks who are trying to integrate their economies into the globe.”
Nor is there much populism in Asia’s developed economies.
“So where do you see it? Well you see it in the Western world, in Europe and the United States,” he said. And the puzzle is that within the Western world, “you actually see it in places that are very different economically. I just gave you the story of the loss of manufacturing in the United States. Well guess what country has not lost much manufacturing? Germany. And guess what, Germany has right wing populism growing as well. You talk about economic inequality in the United States, which is a huge problem. Well guess what, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, they have not had much rising inequality in the last 20 years. And they have fiery right-wing populists.”